30 November 2014

Electric Wizard - Time To Die

Electric Wizard are a band I've heard and read about, although I've not actually heard their music until this blog. I think the reason for that is because they are part of the Doom/Stoner Metal scene and my experiences of that particular genre are bands who reckon wearing either bell-bottoms or any other 70's clothes while rehashing Black Sabbath's best riffs makes them hot shit. No, it doesn't. Mind, I do have a soft spot for Queens Of The Stone Age but they have more of a classic rock vibe to them. Also, I'm primarily a Thrash Metal guy who makes the occasional foray into Death/Grind/Groove Metal as well. So the prospect of listening to songs that can go up to ten minutes in length whilst being played extremely slowly - usually involving one note - was about as appealing as licking the sweat from Susan Boyle's ass crack. Nevereless, it's often suggested I should try new bands so I'm giving this band a go right now.

As one can imagine, Black Sabbath is a prime influence on this genre. Hell, Electric Wizard's name comes from two Black Sabbath songs ("Electric Funeral" and "The Wizard"). This is where it gets confusing - I love the first five Sabs albums - as well as bits and pieces after that but that's a conversation for another time - so ideally, this should be right up my street. But, as mentioned, I was never into the Doom/Stoner/Sludge scene. Down? Nah, perfer Superjoint Ritual (or even Pantera...). Cathedral? 'Witchfinder General' was a great song but not that arsed. Kyuss? Again, more like classic rock. Still, let's see what these guys are like...

We start off with a song called "Incense For The Damned". The intro is one of those sampled news reports over white noise before going into a musical passage that is very reminiscent of  the intro to "Am I Evil?" by Diamond Head, sets the tone nicely, to be honest. Any thoughts that these are gonna be a bunch of Sabbath copyists (or even Diamond Head copyists) dissolve quickly. Nope, what we've got here sounds far heavier and nastier than anything either band could come up with. Vocals are low in the mix but the music...oh my God, it comes right out of Satan's very own cement mixer. This is 'bad trip' music where it's the end of the night, your Missus has buggered off with someone else and you've had too much to drink and smoke. Possibly a few other 'things' too...we've all been there. Funny how a song can keep on getting slower and slower as it goes on. The main riffs sound very reminiscent to "Teenage Kicks" or even a Pink Floyd song called "Echoes" (It was the song that Andrew Lloyd-Webber was supposed to have plagarised when he did the overture to "Phantom Of The Opera". The song is about ten minutes long but it doesn't feel like it.

The title track - "Time To Die" follows, and is a little bit lighter in the sense that it's still heavy but not as dense or as layered as the previous track. Wah-wah pedal on the bass, it's like the ghost of Cliff Burton has rolled in with a few K's of pot and we're all getting lifted!

"I Am Nothing" brings it's ass round with an ominous guitar riff and marching snare drums. It's quite a prominent riff which snares you like a mantra. This really is some kind of nightmarish music. A nightmare of drowning in bourbon and weed. The outro is dragged out something fierce, very slow and demonic.

"Destroy Those Who Love God" is one of those instrumentals with news report samples played over the top of it. Not too bad.

"Funeral Of Your Mind" speeds the pace up. We're now approaching mid-tempo. The song still sounds like a nightmare though, this is due in part to the vocals being quite low in the mix, as mentioned before. And they appear to be 'sneer' vocals which adds a whole different vibe. This vocal style doesn't just apply to this song, but to all those with vocals on this album. In fact, the whole album has a creepy vibe about it.

"We Love The Dead" - very bass heavy. Not many vocals to this one but when they come in, it;s kind of like they're their own instrument. Very uplifting riffs in this song. Like someone trying to get out of a tar pool. More wah-wah infused bass and everyone is very happy.

"Sadiowitch" ups the tempo slightly to a crawl, and we've also got more sneery vocals and obtuse drum patterns. Canny enough although probably not that essential a song compared to what's gone on previously.

"Lucifer's Slaves" adds a swagger to the proceedings and it certainly is a canny song. The vibe of the album has changed. Well, it changed a couple of tracks ago but now it seems like the booze and bad drugs are wearing off and things are becoming clearer. Things slow down before building up to a good finale.

"Saturn Dethroned" is the last song and is an instrumental. Very bass-heavy and finishes with the sounds of running water.

All in all, this album has certainly been an experience. Proof that you can be as heavy as almighty fuck without playing at a thousand miles an hour. The bass guitar is the most prominent instrument here and it's awesome! The only drawback I have is the latter material on the album doesn't quite hit the mark due to the nightmarish vibe of the first few tracks seemingly dissapating and becoming something more optimistic, lighter. Kind of like "The Divine Comedy" - this guy is dragged through the Nine Layers Of Hell before then being taken round Purgatory and eventually Heaven. Kind of like this album. Mind, it could be interpreted that the change in vibe was actually a masterful work of genius. I'll let you's be the judge. Either way, it's the perfect album to have one of those nights that leave your sitting room/bedroom looking like the cafe out of "Midnight Express"!

9/10 - Almost perfect. Almost.

Top Track: "Incense For The Damned".

Chris J.

This album is on iTunes.


(Not a song off this album - but a fucking genius song title!)

Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium

Max Cavalera has long been a musical hero of mine, ever since I first heard "Chaos A.D" as an impressionable fifteen-year old. After that, it was onto the rest of his then-band Sepultura's discography and also his side-band Nailbomb. Growing up in the 90's, he seemed to represent the 90's metal scene at the time, along with other stalwarts like Pantera, Fear Factory, Biohazard, Machine Head (Or anyone on Roadrunner Records at that time!). His brother Igor (Or Iggor on occasion) wasn't far behind, what with being the drummer of Sepultura at the time. He was - still is - one of the best drummers in the metal scene. Together, they were one half of Sepultura, a band who seemed destined for greater things...

Then it all went tits-up over in-fighting and Max left and formed nu-metal band Soulfly, who seemed destined for great things also but by the second album ("Primitive"), it seemed that maybe they were not going to be the game-changers people thought they'd be. "3" only confirmed it. This was because a) they'd taken everything that was great about "Roots", watered it down so that it was as weak as cheap lager and b) Max seemed to lack confidence in his abilities to go it alone, he had half a dozen guest appearences on each album which further lessened the impact. And let's be honest - it was nu-metal. Dressing it up as world music with ethnic instruments is all well and dandy, but scrape away to the core, and it was nu-metal. Simplistic riffs, lowest-common-denominator lyrics (JUMPDAFUCKUP) and rappers making guest appearences...and don't get me started on those Kappa tracksuit tops. Luckily, he got his shit together by "Prophecy" and has been making proper metal from then on. Some might say it was because the bottom had fallen out of the nu-metal fad by that time, but who knows? But what about Igor?

He stayed with Sepultura throughout this and continued to plow though playing on albums which were good, but deep inside you knew they would never top what came before. After the release of 2006's Dante XXI (A concept album based on "The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri) he quit the band citing the old "artistic differences" and went off to do something else. Apparently, it was DJ'ing but I've not heard much of his stuff. Then in 2006/7, he patched up his differences with Max and formed Cavalera Conspiracy (Originally to be called Inflikted but abandoned due to legal issues).

The first album (called "Inflikted") came out in 2008 and seemed quite popular, although I never got into it. To my ears, it seemed to have been marketed on the brothers reuniting - and I can understand why, but the music wasn't very good IMO. Seemed a bit scrappy and rush-released. I can appreciate they were both happy to be in a band again, but surely a bit longer in the practice room would have sufficed? This is why I missed their second album (Blunt Force Trauma) as I couldn't face it. I've been asked to blog this one so here goes. And now ends the long as fuck intro, let's here some music...

"Babylonian Pandemonium" - This is the opening song and what a scorcher! Sounds very much like Sepultura when they'd adopted the hardcore punk influences into their sound. A nice way to open the album!

"Bonzai Kamikaze" - A song about the Kamikaze pilots in WW2. Although I think there may be a mistake as bonzai is those little trees, isn't it? I guess they meant "banzai". Still, it's a great song. That's two songs in and I'm very impressed.

"Scum" - excuse me while I headbang like an absolute beast. This is fuckin' awesome! Coming across like hardcore punk bordering on grindcore - the type of grindcore played by Repulsion and Terrorizer, where it was more akin to really, really fast Death Metal instead of the 20 second rackets put out by (early) Napalm Death and AxCx. I think I may have to listen to this song a few more times just to make sure it's good...

"I, Barbarian" gets back to more thrash-orientated territory, albeit with a hardcore punk influence. Another good song.

"Cramunhao" - I've no idea what this is as the vocals are buried in the mix, which is the same on the other songs on this album. Another vicious slice of the hardcore infused thrash. Things slow down towards the end of the song. It's not bad.

"Apex Predator" - Starts off with this weird intro that made me think it was a Spotify advert (I'm too cheap to buy the premium service as I already have Netflix) before descending into a monster of a song. This one is a bit more diverse than the others. Starting off by sounding like one of the fast numbers on the "Arise" album (The best Seps album in the world ever), it then slows down into a lurch before upping the speed again. I feel it's worth pointing out that so far, we've heard more passion,urgency and desire in six songs than in the last few Soulfly albums. Could it be that Max keeps that band going as some kind of bread-and-butter income while unleashing the fury in CC?

"Insurrection" kicks all our asses. Yup, I'm running out of platitudes and stuff, so please bear with me. It does that thing again where it goes flat out for pretty much the duration but the last minute or so is a slow lurch. Hey, it's better than countless "tribal jams"!

"Not Losing The Edge" threatens to have a groove and sitar in there! So we've kinda got some experimentation going on. A fine, solid song which despite not having the fast ferociousness of most of the album, has a great groove and will no doubt get a bit of windmill-headbanging going.

"Father Of Hate" has a faint hint of electronica in the intro before kicking off into a fine blast of punk infused thrash. Like pretty much most of the album! As with Nickelback, the band have found a formula that works for them - and me, this album has been great up to now. I'm also thinking of revisiting the debut and also giving the second one a listen.

"The Crucible" is up and is about the witch trials. I think there was a movie based on the same thing which starred Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder - who, for once, wasn't completely awful. I'm surprised that I managed to decipher some of the words due to the vocals being buried. It ends the album on a crushing note instead of a fast one. Which is great.

Well, I gotta say that I am well impressed with this. Ladies and gents, this is possibly the best thing to have the Cavalera surname on it for a long, long time. Whilst it's not as good as prime-time Seps or Nailbomb, it's better than a good chunk of Soulfly and the Seps albums after "Against".

8/10 - Oh now you have my attention, my money, time and heart.

Top Track: "Scum".

This album is on iTunes.

Amazon link.
Spotify link.

29 November 2014

Myles Sanko - Forever Dreaming

A little while ago, on a summer's night in August I was reading stuff on my laptop and found a post by one of my friend's; he was waxing lyrical about a gig he had just attended in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, for an up and coming R&B/Soul artist called Myles Sanko.  Whilst looking at a few photos he had took of the event, I thought I would check out the album/ep (it is an album for me) which was on Spotify called 'Born In Black & White' (Cleverly linked here).  I was floored by what I heard and did a review straight away, it was so refreshing to hear a singer that was making R&B/Soul music the way that it should be done and not making it sound like a computer game. I was also excited to hear that there was another release following shortly afterwards, but I will be honest it is until very recently that I have been able to release the album.  So with a little shame that I have been a little bit late once again, here is a review of 'Forever Dreaming'.

Starting off the album is the title track - "Forever Dreaming".  The tone is not as immediate as the opening of 'Born In Black & White', but it is a much more mature and soulful beginning to an album.  The song is about dreaming and various emotions attached to that - love, the person you love and other connotations to this romantic number.  This introduction to the album does not come out with all guns blazing, it starts with the power to woo the audience and that is sometimes the smarter move.  "Light In My Hand" has another slow and thought provoking start to it, it starts off all reflective and inwards; but the magic starts to shine through and the keys start to play and the bass pulses.  All the while Mr Sanko sings his song of love which is very powerful indeed.  The man is in love and he is not sure if it is going to be recuperated by the flame of his desires, it is another take on the world’s oldest theme but it sounds brilliant as it builds towards a brilliant ending as the brass section is introduced to the number.  "Shooting Star" is another number that shows the change from the first release to this record, it is another more mature number about free falling towards the person that you love.  It is very measured and not as wild as some of the songs from 'Born In Black & White', but it feels as if it knows how to get the soul moving in a different way.  The classic feeling of the song is so good, it is also so retro as well; I love that sort of sound and tone, it appeals to me in many way and keeps up the wonder pace of the album so far.

"My Inspiration" is the fourth track of the album, starting with a lounge laid back style that would make Mr Chaney lose his mind when he hears this.  It is all chilled and relaxed, the lyrics about seeing an inspirational person is very charming; but that has to be backed up with a performance that matches those intentions.  Lucky, Mr Sanko has a voice that will be able to deliver a stunning performance.  It is not a shouting or strained performance, it is measured and refined, just a gentle and beautiful tune.  "So Much Indeed" is the fifth track; this is probably the weakest song on the record if I am honest.  Whilst the performance is the same high quality, it is still the song on the record which for whatever reason does not reach the levels on the record.  It is a good tune, but not the best of tunes.  After this is the short interlude called "Lonely Dreamers" which is a beautiful instrumental that could have been extended to be honest.  But it does make way for the fun filled "To My Surprise", I think it is the first song with a flute solo this year that has made me smile.  It is full of joyful exuberance that makes this sphere a much warmer place, even in the middle of winter.  Like a shaft of sunlight, it brightens the day and is the stand up track of the album.

"Save My Soul" starts off with a thumping bass line which has the brass section and flute floating over it, this song is a plea for help and asking for the singer to be taken away from his current life to anywhere else.  It is another brilliant performance from the soul man, much in the line of Sam & Dave; it is a great number from Mr Sanko & Co and it keeps the energy flowing.  "Take A Look At Me Now" is a much lighter number than "Save My Soul", but the music is once again stunning.  This soul number would have been given a blues treatment by the Blues Brothers if they were still around.  It just showcases the backing band as much as it does Mr Sanko himself.  Whoever is in his backing band on this album, they are on fire and this album is another high point in this record.  After this is "Where We Need To Be" which is a quiet ending to the main section of the album.  A piano number with light percussion and gentle guitars, this song of friendship and hope is a number that is really pleasant, but to end the album?  It is a strange song to end this record on, as nice a song as it is it would have been better to end with "Take A Look At Me Now".  The track which actually ends the album is an instrumental version of "To My Surprise" - a great piece of music, but strange to add to the end of the record.

This album is a really good record over all; it has that style which many artists should follow.  It does not have any modern effects on it, it just keeps the tone sound, the mix is perfect and for the best part of the record it is a great soul/old school R&B number.  The ending of the album does cost it a mark as it just fizzles out with a strange ending that is "Where We Need To Be". I do not know if that was a personal thing or dictated by the producer or record label.  But it was the wrong choice for me; never the less, it is still a hugely positive album and people need to check this guy out.  He is truly someone to keep an eye on.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - To My Surprise

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Myles Sanko website here (which has a webstore so you can purchase the album directly from Mr Sanko)

You can also purchase the album from the Bandcamp page of record label - Légère Recordings

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link to the album here

Robert Plant - Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar

For some people, this is not the album that they wanted to hear from Robert Plant.  For a lot of people, the album they wanted to hear is another one with Messrs Page and Jones to relive their youth.  They do not want to hear the albums that Mr Plant wants to create for himself, what they want are more records and tours from Led Zeppelin.  For me, I really do not want another Led Zeppelin album - it has really been over since the eighties with the sad passing of Mr John Bonham.  Yes we have had BBC session albums and that one off reunion, but it was stated as a one off and that is the right thing. Much like Mr Plant, I do not really want to see the hits or rest in the past - time moves on and why should it not be the same for him?  With that in mind, I am going to use the next section that was originally done for this blog by Mr Marc Richardson who was going to do this blog (but ran out of time before he headed to Peru - long story)....

Officially, this is credited to Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, yet another backing group of musicians that the Black Country boy has amassed as well along with Band Of Joy and Alison Krauss. For me (Marc) it's a little bit scary that Mr Plant has just released this as album number ten, two more than he ever recorded with his equally famous Led Zeppelin peers. Thankfully and as an ardent fan, it's good to see that even at retirement age he's showing no sign of resting on his laurels just yet.

...Whilst Mr Richardson is an avid fan, I have personally drifted in and out with Mr Plant.  I prefer it when he is doing something he is passionate about, I did not really enjoy 'Raising Sands' if I am honest and some of his early solo stuff was not my cup of tea.  But I am actually interested in this record as well, just to see what the man is currently up to (on his alleged final album according to some vicious rumours).

Starting the album is a re-imagination of a traditional song called “Little Maggie” which is a mixture of Arabic overtones, country banjos, electronica interludes and powerful drumming.  Mr Plant himself is not the lion vocally that he was all those years ago, but his deliver is none the less hypnotic.  It is more measured that the bare chest Greece deity of yesteryear that he personified in his youth.    This is an instantly engaging number that introduces the album in the best possible way, not with a big bang or gentle strum; this has the feeling of a traveller who has been around this sphere a few times and who knows exactly what he wants to deliver.  It is the one of the strongest opening tunes I have heard this year and this is not just a superficial boast, it is that damn good.  “Rainbow” is number that I am already familiar with after hearing it when watching the TV coverage of Glastonbury this year.  It sounds much more powerful than it did live to be honest, it might be down to the drumming and the way the wind was blowing the sound when he was on stage.  Either way, it just sounds stunning and once again I prefer the more gentleman approach to Mr Plant’s vocals; much like the performance of Rob Halford on the latest Judas Priest album (Jerm was wrong on that review btw), he knows what he is capable of doing and he delivers it in style.  Next is “Pocketful Of Golden” which has the bass dominating tune, with a keyboard loop swaying in the background, the Arabic horns and strings complimenting the gentle guitar strumming.  It has something of a swagger about the number, but without being the sort of tune that would be offensive or rude; it is just a strange mixture of all of the styles that Mr Plant has released over the years.

“Embrace Another Fall” is another fine example of the traveller theme that was introduced in “Little Maggie” at the beginning of the album, it is very reflective in nature and I am sure that people will make their own assumptions about this number.  However it is the first number to have a true guitar solo in it and it also have a lovely haunting section with vocals handled by Julie Murphy from the band Fernhill which compliment the tune before it starts to build up towards a crescendo ending that does not quite peak, but still sounds very good.  “Turn It Up” is a song which sounds as if it was supposed to have been done by Tom Waits, but it has ended up on this album.  It is a brilliant rock/blues number that has some strange time signatures on it.  It is a good song, a little bit at odds for me against the rest of the record; but still as an individual piece a little gem that should keep the rock heads happy.  “A Stolen Kiss” is one of those numbers that  Robert Plant was just placed on this planet for, it is a soulful piano ballad that sounds like it could be recreated by many a bar during the dark soul of the night.  It is a heartbreaker, a lost love reminder and so fragile that it will make the hardest heart weep openly; and it is all because it is kept simple.  It does not need a thousand things going on, it just keeps it basic and that is its power.  “Somebody There” is the seventh song on the album, with the full band coming back in to this slice of American via the Black Country (FYI – for people not from the UK – the term “The Black Country” refers to an area in England that was famous with coal and iron works: see, history and music).  It is a nice enough song, but nothing more than that for me.  It is still a strong number, but when you compare it to “Turn It Up” or “Little Maggie”, it just does not have that magic thing that makes you excited about a song for me.

“Poor Howard” which is a reworking of the Lead Belly song "Po' Howard" starts off with a drum beat out of time with itself, the quiet by urgent strumming of a guitar and the Mr Plant introduces the song which sounds like a chant about a poor boy and the love which is unrequited.  With each subsequent the song drops its hooks into you, embedding itself in your mind and the charms multiply more and more.  It is a great number once again, showcasing the rest of The Sensational Space Shifters as well as Mr Plant himself.  Ninth track “House of Love” starts with a guitar hollowing as the rest of the band take their time before joining with a soul searching number, which is all about a relationship ending and the ending of union using destructive metaphors.  It is a well played number that shows that you do not need to make a noise that rocks the foundations of the world, to be able to make a song that will rock the listeners' own sphere of existence.  Following on is "Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)" which is the penultimate track of the album.  Whilst this song is another that does not reinvent the wheel in terms of sound or lyrical content, it is another union between sounds and instruments from across the ages.  With gentle electronica sounding drums, a pounding bass, the sort of guitar solo that has never been out of fashion and all with Mr Plant leading us like a minstrel would lead a small German town's supply of rats to the river.  It is another highlight on this constantly good album, which ends with "Arbaden (Maggie's Baby)", which acts as a natural counter piece to "Little Maggie".  It ends the album by bring it full circle and ending the album in style.

I will be honest I was not expecting very much from this record; it was the main reason I gave it to Mr Richardson to review as it seemed to be his type of thing.  I am actually really glad he did not do the review now as it has turned out to be a brilliant album.  This album does not feel like a last stand against the world, it does not feel like a fuck you to the people who want Led Zeppelin; it does not feel like someone who is trying something new to seem hip and with the in crowd.  It is an excellent example of an artist who is making the music he wants to do, not giving a damn about what the rest of the world want; yet he is hoping that people will still be interested enough to listen.  Whilst Mr Plant is not able to reach ever note he could in his youth, he is still a powerful and amazing singer.  He is also a clever man, he does not need to wheel out the hits from yesterday all the time and that is a great position to be in.  If this is his last stand (and after this record I really hope that it is not), then he is going out with the sort of album which anyone would be proud to have created. 

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Little Maggie

You can purchase the album on Spotify here

You can visit the Robert Plant website here

Mr Plant does not have his current releases on either Spotify or Deezer - So the only way to listen to it is by either purchasing the album or being naughty.  Not condemning or condoling you whatever you do - just saying....

Nickelback - No Fixed Address

Here is a band who've managed to stick around despite all the haters! For a while, these guys were all over TV and radio thanks to their particular brand of rock music which whilst it had a bit of a kick to it, was also melodic enough, catchy enough and - dare I say, anthemic enough - to give the band the odd hit or two. Their song "How You Remind Me" is an example of this. Whilst it may not be everyones cup of Buckfast, it certainly got a few sales as well as a bit of cash and more exposure for the band. As is their other big hit "Rock Star". It became apparent early on that they'd pretty much stumbled on a formula and strip-mined it to within an inch of it's life but, to be fair, most bands do that. Outside of Nickelback, lead singer Chad Kroeger did a song for the first Toby McGuire Spiderman movie which followed this formula pretty closely, and even signed a band to his record label called Theory Of A Dead Man who were pretty much Nickelback-lite (Although their lead singer looked like Officer Crabtree from "Allo Allo" so they get a free pass for that). He also married Avril Lavigne but I dunno much else after that.

My personal feelings on Nickelback are that it seemed there was no real heart and soul to their music, it was IMO about as exciting as eating a bowl of vanilla ice-cream. And it also seemed to me that their music was aimed at the most casual of casual rock fans, the kind of people who said they were rockers in High School but never ever got past "Use Your Illusion 1/2" and "The Black Album". The very people who'd get drunk in wine bars and think it was cool/ironic to sing "Rock Star" with all the grace and charm of a wounded bison. This wasn't a snap-judgement neither - I first heard one of their songs on one of those "Drilling The Vein" compilation videos that Roadrunner Records used to put out. This was back in early 2001, just before they hit it big. At the time, I just found the song to be very dull. I volunteered to do this blog just for the craic.

First song is "Million Miles An Hour" and it actually has quite a thumping riff! Shame the FX over the verse vocals bring it down a touch, they don't suit the song at all. A bit of ear candy now and again in a mix which teeters on "overproduced". As far as albums go, it certainly gets your attention. Would make a good concert opener.

"Edge Of A Revolution" is a protest song. Pretty much the same as the previous song in that it comes across like a stomper. Chad Kroeger is inspiring us to rise up against The Man! This song certainly ticks all the "anthem" boxes.

"What Are You Waiting For" opens up with ear candy and crappy FX over the vocals. I guess they're trying to soften the mood and add a bit of variety to proceedings but the song has a structure that is all too familiar. Quiet verse, loud chorus which has an undercurrent of 'keyboard'. It's well crafted but not landing with me. Although I can imagine a few people may like it.

"She Keeps Me Up". VERY interesting opening. Kinda sounds like the Queen song "Another One Bites The Dust" but with added funk guitar! Detailing about a femme fatale he cannot let go of, it's a tale of anguish that has a fucking stupid lyric - "coca-cola rollercoaster". What are you talking about? How exactly is a romance with a person of ill-repute equated to a popular soft beverage and a fairground ride??? The music itself is ok though.

"Make Me Believe Again" - Multi-tracked vocals over the kind of music made popular at WWE pay-per-views. Although you could stick any kind of sports montage in there and it would probably do the job. Or you could get an aftershave commercial out of it. Possibly for Hai Karate, I dunno. It's all a bit vanilla, to be honest.

"Satellite" starts with acoustic guitar and multi-tracked vocals. Keyboards as well. It's not too bad but again, it's all a bit vanilla. But in this case, it's the "expensive luxury ice-cream vanilla", not the "cheap knock-off store ice-cream vanilla" so that's good.

"Get 'Em Up" tries to readdress this by reverting back to the "stomper" type of song that was prominent at the start of this album. It tells the story of a couple of gangsta-types who steal a gun and attempt to rob a bank - but on a Sunday when it's closed and there are police right next to it...it's quite comical, really. The subject matter, not the song, which is decent enough. The only thing I got against this song is the way Kroeger sings the verses is VERY similar to Lady Gaga on "Pokerface". It sounds peculiar. I've also got this feeling the song was originally about strippers and called "Get 'Em Off" but maybe that's my wishful thinking! Good song.

"The Hammer's Coming Down" is trying to sound all epic and stuff with crashing guitars and drums and it works to a degree. Sounding nothing like a "stomper" or a ballad, it's possibly the stand-out track on this album. It's quite uplifting, really. Yes, I like this one.

"Miss You" is a bit twee, another ballad. It's ok but sounds quite ordinary compared to the song that preceded it. Sounds like it could have been written for any of those identikit solo pop starts from the last ten years.

"Got Me Running Round" features Flo Rida. The name rings a bell but I cannot recall hearing any of his stuff. More crap lyrics - "she tastes like the sunshine kissing me" against an adequate musical composition. It was pretty average to be fair. The music was good though.

"Sister Sin" is the last song and it ends the album on a high. An upbeat number, it doesn't rely too much on ear candy and leads us nicely to the end of the album.

So, there you go. I've sat through an actual Nickelback album and - it was good. My opinion of the band has not changed - they've pretty much stuck to the formula they stumbled upon twelve years ago and are pretty much a 'vanilla' band. But what they do on here is definitely done with a a hint of intention, not like they were on autopilot or something. Who will like this album? People who listen to and like it.

7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.

Top Track - "The Hammer's Coming Down".

Chris J.

This album is on iTunes.

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The fact that you expected me to give this album a critical mauling...and I disappointed you...turns me on!

27 November 2014

Corrosion Of Conformity - IX

Corrosion Of Conformity - COC for short - are a band that have a very rich history.  Starting off in 1982 they were firstly a trash/punk cross over before morphing over the years into a more Southern metal sludge act, notably around 'Deliverance' (Cleverly linked to a review here).  However in 2006, the band split up before reforming again in 2010 as a three piece. To be honest, as I mentioned in my review of 'Deliverance', my favourite time for the band was the early days and I have also enjoyed their most recent out put more than the time when they were releasing albums such as 'Wiseblood'.  Not that they were playing bad music, it was just not the version of the band that I enjoy the most.  IX was released in 2014 and once again, I am leaving it to the last minute with some of my reviews.  Lets see how this one shapes up...

The album starts off with “Brand New Sleep” which begins as much as expected, Black Sabbath worship with a huge slice of NOLA punk blues which swings along with a focused attitude.  Starting slowly and keeping that foot down without any intention of shifting.  The riffs are so dense and heavy, you could probably use it as a weapon to wound people if you threw it at them.  It does feel as if they have been taking some notes from the likes of Crowbar and Down (which features Pepper Keenan who used to play for them).  It is a fantastic whirlwind of rock and heavy bass work as well.  Starting with a thunderstorm “Elphyn” follows “Brand New Sleep” without messing with the formula too much; it has a similar beginning to “Brand New Sleep” but once you get to the chorus, the band turn this into a much more powerful number.  The loose drumming mixed in with that chunky riff, which is driven home by the bass is brilliant; add to that the middle bridge breakdown and this is an instant stoner classic for me.  “Denmark Vesey” is more punk than metal, this fast paced ball of spite and bile rockets into existence with no care for anyone but to kick ass and rock.  The speed element is brilliant adds something else to the first two slabs of sludge.

“The Nectar” is the fourth track here, this is a halfway house between both styles – it has a classic rock base with that wonderful riff and vocal delivery, but there is a punk/Motorhead need for speed which courses through the best majority of the song.  Even when it slows down and the riff becomes sludge, it still has that possibility of exploding at any second and the solo is really good as well.  “Interlude” follows and does exactly what it says on the tin with quiet guitars and percussions, before giving way to “On Your Way” which keeps the band on that metal path that they have been forging throughout the album.  It is great to heat a band get this sort of song right, especially when there is a lot of band who have apparently forgotten the simplest part of this type of music – it has to rock first and foremost.  This tune is a great rock/metal classic song writing and how to make the guitar sound as if it is singing to tempt angels from heaven.  “Trucker” is a slow burning song, which starts off with a drawn out riff that breaks into another punk fuelled metal anthem, which will probably steal as many narcotics and ladies of pleasure on the way out of the door.  It is a very simple tune which once again is only there to rock, it must be complicated as hell to play as some of those riffs in the song sound thunderous; it is just the talent of the band which is making it sound simple, even when they drop into sludge mode towards the end of the song.

“The Hanged Man” could have once again been wrote by the original Black Sabbath line up back in the day, it is not the best song on the album for me; but do not mistake this for me saying this is not a good number – I do like it an awful lot.  It is just that compared to the other songs, it is the one of the album which is just ok for me.  Each album has a track like that for everyone, but I still enjoy what the band has done here.  “Tarquinius Superbus” has the mixture of speed, trash, punk and metal in a perfect storm of aggression that once again makes the hair on my neck stand up and makes me want to jump around and go crazy.  The penultimate track is called “Who You Need To Blame” and it is my pleasure to report that it keeps up the great work that has been done for the best percentage of this album.  It is just a straight up rock/metal number again and it does not attempt to be anything else, no messing around and that is fine by me – when songs sound this good, it is always a pleasure.  Ending the album is “The Nectar Revisited” which is a lot of drums, the riff being played again and ending the album on a brilliant high. 

This is a simple formula that so many bands tend to get wrong, but not these guys – monster riffs, thumping bass, drums which sound both solid and loose and combine.  Considering that for a long while these guys were not existing, I just find it hard to comprehend why they are not bigger than they currently are.  Maybe it is because people think they know them for their previous efforts, I myself am guilty of making that assumption.  Now though, now I will be trying out as many of their albums that they have made as a three piece as possible.  A great sludge/punk/speed metal hybrid that just keeps on giving.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track – On Your Way

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the COC website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, you can listen to IX here

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